What Does Vulnerability Feel Like?

Until this weekend I thought I understood what vulnerability feels like. I didn’t. I didn’t have a clue.
I noticed a lot of new readers coming to my site over the past few days, thanks to the lovely blog Cup of Jo sharing my post on Friday, and my first thought was, “Wow, so many people are reading what I wrote! This is amazing.”
My second thought was, “Wow, SO MANY people are reading what I wrote. That’s a lot of people. Oh look, they are clicking around my site and reading everything. Everything.”
My third thought was, “What have I done?”
Then I realized, this is what vulnerability feels like. Brene Brown never said it was going to be simple or easy or fun. She did say it, “sounds like truth and feels like courage.” It feels like a lot of things but I’m not sure I would describe it as feeling like courage today.
So, what does vulnerability feel like? Well, right now vulnerability feels like sitting naked in the middle of a room while people circle you silently, nod to each other, exchange glances, and then walk away. It feels like watching someone go through every drawer in your house, every book on your bookshelf, and every box in your pantry.
Vulnerability feels like a choir solo, a breakup, and a bad haircut all on the same day. Basically, vulnerability feels like seventh grade. It’s feeling lonely and excited and anxious in the same second. It’s feeling rejected and accepted in the same moment, by the same person.
Vulnerability feels like a pit in your stomach. It forces you to take a deep breath and ask yourself, “Am I okay?” It wants you to second guess yourself. The thing is, once you’re second guessing yourself it’s too late. That’s the beauty of vulnerability.
I’ve always thought about vulnerability as being black and white, all or nothing, all the time. Like it’s either something I’m doing or something I’m not doing. I’m either living a vulnerable life or I’m not. I’m either a vulnerable person or I’m not. You know what? I was wrong. Vulnerability is a process. It’s figuring out how much of myself to share, with whom, and when. Vulnerability is a choice I have to make every day.
Brene says, “Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in.”
I’m in, I’m all in. And yes, that scares me.
What does vulnerability feel like to you?


  1. Cara on December 11, 2017 at 8:52 am

    *waves* I’m one of your newbies! I think I got here from Beth’s blog (thebethnextdoor) maybe?
    I’m having a weird moment of balance and peace lately (trying not to question it too much, but it’s not my typical modus operandi). I had a nice feeling of vulnerability the other day. I was thinking about this being my first Christmas without my grandfather and while my first instinct was to employ my math trick to keep the tears at bay (reciting the 17 times table), I let myself feel. It wasn’t the public ugly cry I was afraid it would be. It was really… nice. And then it made me question who this new peaceful person is because, again, so strange.

    • Courtney A. Casto on December 11, 2017 at 10:31 am

      Hi Cara! Welcome! Balance and peace can feel uncomfortable when you’re not used to them huh? Thank you for sharing your story. Yes, let yourself feel! It’s so, so hard to do that sometimes. You made me think of another Brene Brown quote that has really affected my life. “We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.”

  2. Beth on December 11, 2017 at 10:58 am

    I totally understand the feelings of vulnerability and I think you hit the nail on the head about what it feels like. It’s freaking scary. Like so scary. But I’m so proud of you for putting yourself out there and going all in. And I hope it gets easier and less scary.

    • Courtney A. Casto on December 13, 2017 at 12:56 am

      It is freaking scary. Really, really scary but we can do scary things!

  3. Divya on December 11, 2017 at 11:12 am

    Oh, this gave me the goosebumps. I feel like I”m going through this same realization in my life right now. Can we be BFFs? I’m all about Cup of Jo and Brene Brown and Courtney Casto! <3

    • Courtney A. Casto on December 11, 2017 at 2:19 pm

      Consider us BFFs Divya! Isn’t Cup of Jo such a great blog? I get lost in the posts and comments there almost everyday.

  4. Kim on December 11, 2017 at 11:22 am

    I remember the first time a friend told me she read my blog and she said she felt like she was invading my privacy and my inner most thoughts. I went through all my latest posts that night to see what I had written about. Or when a friend asks me about something I did last week and I think, how did she know about that…. But I am a chronic over sharer and open book. LOL With that being said, Im new around here from the Peaceful Posse.

    • Courtney A. Casto on December 13, 2017 at 12:55 am

      Hi Kim! Welcome! I do feel a little bit like I invited the world to read my diary. It’s scary but it’s also what I’m striving for – authenticity and vulnerability. Though, there is plenty I don’t share too. I’ve always been a private person so this is all new and scary but also kind of amazing too.

  5. Heather on December 11, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    This is so great, and so honest. I’m so happy your writing is being seen and getting the recognition it deserves! You go girl!

    • Courtney A. Casto on December 11, 2017 at 2:15 pm

      Thank you Heather!!

  6. Chaton on December 11, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    The Brene Brown Ted Talk was amazing! Thanks for sharing!!!

    • Courtney A. Casto on December 11, 2017 at 2:15 pm

      Was that your first time seeing it? It’s amazing. I could watch it everyday.

  7. Akaleistar on December 11, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    I definitely relate to your feelings on vulnerability. So uncomfortable sometimes.

  8. San on December 12, 2017 at 8:19 pm

    Vulnerability is that split-second after you put something out there, where you don’t know if people will love and celebrate or scorn you for it.

    • Courtney A. Casto on December 13, 2017 at 12:40 am

      Yes, I think that is when I feel most raw. It is total exposure with uncertainty!

  9. Katrina on December 13, 2017 at 12:10 am

    I’m one of those that came from cup of jo. And I think your blog is lovely. I appreciate real talk and real people. So you be you and keep you that greatness!

    • Courtney A. Casto on December 13, 2017 at 12:50 am

      Thanks Katrina! I love Cup of Jo! I’m so glad you introduced yourself!

  10. Erinn on December 13, 2017 at 8:38 am

    Love how honest your posts are! And you truly have a gift with words. I laughed out loud at the 7th grade comment – I think that is the worst time for everyone!
    And I think sometimes the hardest part is allowing yourself to feel vulnerable.

  11. Maggie on December 29, 2017 at 7:37 pm

    Thank you for this post. I end up chickening out of really taking the next step with my blog precisely because I’m afraid of this feeling, and I really need to stop using it as an excuse.

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